This profile below was prepared when Vasant Savangikar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1983.

INTRODUCTION




THE NEW IDEA

To develop and use new technologies designed to produce food and also create jobs.




THE PROBLEM

Lucerne is a more profitable crop than sugar cane, the most common local crop, because lucerne requires less water, does not exhaust the soil as much, and can be harvested 45 days after planting. But, lucerne does not travel well in trucks and its market has therefore been limited. Local processing would increase its market and the farmers' profits as well as create a business for the entrepreneur who starts a processing station.




THE STRATEGY

Savangikar's intent is to develop an interrelated group of profit-making ventures at the village level. Processing stations in the villages will receive lucerne that is grown within an eight-kilometer radius. These two or three person processing stations will produce a protein extract which, when suspended in water, will serve as a milk replacer for young calves so that the cows' milk can be saved for sale or for use by the farmers' children. The fibrous residue from the process is mixed with maltose and used as cattle food.

Dr. Savangikar has produced the protein extract and has used it very successfully in a series of recipes fed school children under the professional scrutiny of several outside groups. Controlled tests on the calf's milk substitute conducted by Bombay Veterinary College have also produced encouraging results. Dr. Savangikar has also succeeded in selling several large orders of cattle fodder, made from the fiber residue, to farmers in the area. He hopes eventually to spread his idea through India. If he can do this profitably, he hopes to generate a large number of geographically dispersed processing jobs.




THE PERSON

A young scientist in the field of alternative food supply, Dr. Savangikar is working on a method for economical production of leaf protein from the lucerne plant, a kind of alfalfa. He hopes not only to combat the serious problems of child nutrition in India, but also to develop a large number of jobs for India's chronically unemployed. He is carrying on his work with the help of two associates, his wife, who is also a Ph.D. biologist, and Bhandus Patunkar, also a protégé of Dr. R.N. Doshi of the Department of Botany at Narathwanda University where recognized research on leaf protein extraction has been going on for the last decade.